Second Half Rally Foils Wildcats in 34-10 Loss at No. 13 James Madison
Oct. 15, 2011
HARRISONBURG, Va.--Against a nationally-ranked opponent on the road for the second straight week, Villanova (1-6, 0-4 CAA) succumbed to a big second half by No. 13 James Madison (5-2, 3-1 CAA) and lost by a final score of 34-10 at Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The game was the third straight for the Wildcats versus a top-25 team.
Despite the appearance of the final score Villanova did not trail in the game until the middle of the third quarter, thanks to a strong defensive effort in the first half. Eventually, the Dukes scored 28 unanswered points in the game's last 23 minutes to go on to the victory.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dustin Thomas (Ventnor, N.J.) returned to action after missing four games with an injury and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kenny Miles (Buena, N.J.) to put the Wildcats ahead 7-0 near the midpoint of the second quarter. Villanova also led 10-6 after junior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.) connected on a 41-yard field goal on the first series of the second half.
The first points for James Madison came on a 22-yard scoring run by Jordan Anderson - the first of three touchdowns he would score on the day - with 6:10 to play before halftime. The ensuing extra point was missed, however, and the Wildcats went into the break with a 7-6 lead.
Villanova started the second half with the ball and briefly extended its lead on Hamilton's field goal before the Dukes offense finally kicked into gear. Following the field goal, James Madison drove 73 yards on nine plays and Anderson ran in from one yard to give the Dukes a 13-10 lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
James Madison was off to the races from that point on. Dae'Quan Scott caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jace Edwards to make the score 20-10 and early in the fourth quarter Edwards hit Kerby Long for an 80-yard touchdown reception to put the game all but out of reach. Anderson scored his third touchdown on an eight-yard scamper with 4:30 to play.
The game was still within striking distance at 20-10 when the fourth quarter began with Villanova holding possession of the ball. After the Wildcats advanced the ball to the Dukes 19-yard line Thomas was sacked for a loss of 11 yards on second-and-six, bring up third-and-17 from the James Madison 30-yard line. Following two incomplete passes Villanova turned the ball over on downs.
Taking the ball over at their own 30-yard line, the Dukes were whistled for a 10-yard holding penalty and then gained no yards on a rushing attempt, bringing up second-and-20 from their own 20-yard line. That was when Edwards found Long for the big scoring play, though, which effectively sealed the game's outcome.
Thomas finished the day 11-of-24 for 127 yards and the touchdown pass to Miles, while also throwing two incerceptions. He also carried the ball 12 times, including breaking away for a 26-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Junior wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) was the leading receiver for the Wildcats with four catches for 25 yards, while freshman wide receiver Clay Horne (St. Paul, Minn.) had two receptions for 36 yards.
On the defensive end senior cornerback Jimmy Pitts (Montclair, N.J.) registered his 11th career interception when he picked off Edwards just before halftime. Freshman linebacker Joey Harmon (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) made six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Junior defensive back Ronnie Akins (Lansdale, Pa.) had a game-high 12 tackles and led three Villanova players that tallied at least 10 stops on the day.
Edwards went 9-of-12 through the air for 203 yards and two touchdowns for James Madison, while Scott ran for 109 yards on 15 carries. Anderson carried the ball 23 times for 85 yards and the three touchdown runs.
Next weekend is Homecoming for the Wildcats and the team will host Old Dominion at Villanova Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
NOTES: The field goal by Hamilton in the third quarter extended his streak of made attempts to 14 consecutive field goals ... He is 15-of-16 on field goals in his career, including a perfect 9-of-9 this season ... The streak of 14 consecutive successful attempts began against New Hampshire last season on November 13, 2010 ... Currently, Hamilton has made at least one field goal in four straight games and in each of those contests has drilled at least one attempt from 40 yards or longer ... Thomas was injured in the second game of the season at Towson on September 10 and had not played since then ... In his absence true freshman Chris Polony (Whitehall, Pa.) started once under center and senior Christian Culicerto (Charlotte, N.C.) made three starts.